Sri Lanka’s jumbo cabinet looks for meeting venue

Jan 31, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s newly inducted 53-member cabinet has put off its first meeting for want of a venue and other logistical problems, press reports here said Wednesday. The delay came as Sri Lanka’s party of Buddhist monks announced they were also joining the government, a move that would further increase the massive cabinet.

President Mahinda Rajapakse swore in the largest cabinet in Sri Lanka’s history on Sunday and also appointed another 33 ministers with non-cabinet rank and 19 deputy ministers.

“The first meeting of the cabinet scheduled for today has been postponed indefinitely due to the non-availability of a place to accommodate the jumbo cabinet,” the Daily Mirror said.

The monks’ party, called the National Heritage Party, said it had decided to nominate a layman to become a cabinet minister that would increase the cabinet to 54 members.

Rajapakse will also increase his hold on parliament with the nine members of the National Heritage Party supporting the government.

Agriculture Minister Maithripala Sirisena was quoted as saying in the local media that the cabinet team would be costly to the government.

“There is no way that one c